Employees take over organic shop to avoid closure

In an attempt to avoid the shop from being closed down, employees from Valley Organics officially took over the business, that has now become a worker co-operative.

A group of employees have saved their jobs, by buying the small retail store they worked in.

Valley Organics, based in Hebden Bridge, has become a popular choice for ethical shoppers across West Yorkshire.

When the previous owners of the store announced their intention to relocate, the six staff members decided to keep the business going by taking over the shop and forming a co-operative.

One of the members, Sally Hayes, said: “The shop has been selling good organic produce and wholefoods for more than 12 years. The previous owners, Jackie and Elaine, have done a wonderful job. When they decided to move on, we jumped at the chance to buy this thriving business”.

With advice from The Co-operative Enterprise Hub and finance from Co-operative Loan Fund, the six employees managed to buy to business from the previous owners.

The members raised capital by using their savings and issuing a loan stock for their customers with a further cash injection from the loan fund.

Investment Manager at Co-operative and Community Finance, Ian Taylor, said: “I’m confident this co-operative takeover of an existing business will be a success.  They are a very good team who know the business well and have a deep commitment to organic and ethically sourced food and the environment.  They seem to work well together and have good ideas for improving the business.”

Customers who buy organic products have started to abandon supermarkets in favour of independent shops like Valley Organics, added Ms Hayes. Valley Organics enjoys a loyal customer base, which enabled the grocery outlet to overcome the floods that struck the town in 2012.

Now, the employees are confident about the shop’s co-operative future. “The veg box scheme is going from strength to strength, shop sales are on the up and we’re looking at stocking new lines,” added Ms Hayes.

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